PORTLAND — This wasn’t going to be the Cony girls basketball team’s day — and one play in the first half Saturday afternoon spelled that out loud and clear.

Morgan Cunningham, who had been red-hot for the Rams in the first quarter of the Class A state final against Brunswick, was wide open for a 3-pointer with Cony trailing the Dragons 22-13 with just over three minutes left in the first half. Below the basket were Morgan Fichthorn and Abby Morrill, positioned perfectly for a rebound.

Neither a basket nor an offensive rebound, sadly for the Rams, would come. Instead, the ball took a long deflection out to Brunswick’s Lexi Morin, who passed it to a wide-open Dakota Shipley at the other end for an easy layup. It was emblematic of a day on which just everything that could go wrong did for Cony in a 54-30 defeat at Cross Insurance Arena.

“It was just Brunswick’s night,” said Cony head coach John Dennett. “They played really good, and we didn’t; they made shots, and we didn’t. That’s all you can really say about it. It was well-deserved by them.”

The Rams lost a rebounding battle that they had seemed to win all season as Brunswick beat them 35-25 on the boards. They couldn’t get open shots from long range, making just four 3-pointers and being forced into tough looks on others. It spelled doom for Cony against big, physical Brunswick.

The first two minutes couldn’t have been scripted much better for Cony (14-8). After a Brunswick turnover, Cunningham hit a 3-pointer on the Rams’ first possession for the game’s first points. She then hit another a minute later before a layup with 6:30 left in the first quarter to make it 8-0 Cony.


Nothing else seemed to go right for the Rams in the first half. Brunswick (20-2) responded with a 13-0 run to take the lead before a Fichthorn 3-pointer marked the final points of the quarter. Shipley then scored eight points in the second quarter for the Dragons, who led 30-13 at the break.

Brunswick’s Alexis Morin looks for a shot while being guarded by Cony’s Abby Morrill, left, and Maci Freeman. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“Basketball is a game of runs, we all know that, so I knew that wasn’t going to be long-lasting,” Dennett said of his team’s hot start. “They settled in and got back to doing what they do: getting the ball inside and finishing shots. When you’re one-and-done and not knocking shots down, it bodes well for the other team.”

Instead of getting back into the game in the second half, Cony fell further behind as Brunswick scored the first points, capping off what would be a 35-5 run after the Rams led 8-0. The Rams never got back in the game as the Dragons closed out a lopsided win to claim their first state championship.

Shipley had game-highs in points (21) and rebounds (10) for Brunswick, which also got 12 points and seven rebounds from Lexi Morin and six points and five boards from Abby St. Pierre. Cony got 17 points from Cunningham and six points and five rebounds from Fichthorn.

Brunswick’s size and physicality turned Cony’s strengths into weaknesses. The Rams simply had no answer for Shipley in the paint at either end as the Dragons’ 6-foot forward limited what they could do down low. Brunswick also had its hands everywhere on Cony possessions, limiting the Rams’ shot selection.

Cony’s Abby Morrill takes a jump shot against Brunswick during the Class A girls’ basketball championship at Cross Insurance Arena on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“We (took away Cony’s strengths), that’s it,” said Brunswick head coach Sam Farrell. “They’re going to drive, so you’ve got to take away middle and then contest shots. I feel like we got a hand on five or six of their threes, and we also made sure they didn’t get those extra opportunities by rebounding. They didn’t have many offensive rebounds.”

Cony’s appearance in the Class A final was its first in the state championship game since 2012. Despite the loss, the Rams’ run still marked a dramatic turnaround for a program that had been a bottom-dweller just a few years ago with a mere 15 wins over six seasons from 2014-20.

“(I’ll remember) their resiliency and how much I love them,” Dennett said. “They’re great kids, they worked to get here, and words can’t describe what they’ve done to inspire the young kids. They brought the community together and brought this basketball program out of the sewer. They’ve given me the memory of a lifetime.”

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